Mrs M fell at home on 2 April 2010. She fractured her right femur and attended the John Radcliffe Hospital for an operation to repair it. In the days after her operation the nursing staff allowed her to fall from her hospital bed on several occasions a result of which she developed a haematoma at the site of her operation. This became infected and she required two further operations to washout the infection and a prolonged three month stay in hospital. Even though she took antibiotics for nearly six months, the infection and the damage it caused to her hip led to her re-admission and a hip replacement in November 2010. In total, she spent six months in hospital.
It was accepted that, after her operation, Mrs M was confused and had already attempted to get out of bed on previous occasions. Indeed, the surgeon’s operation note records that she kept trying to leave the operating table and the nursing notes make numerous references to her disorientation. Not withstanding this she was left unsupervised and was placed in a bed where she could not be seen from the nursing station. As a result she was able to remove her wound dressing unobserved twice but was still not supervised.
Following a complaint, the hospital accepted that Mrs M was collected from the recovery area at 23:20 and was attended by a nurse at 00:15, 01:15 and 01:35. However, no bed rails were attached to her bed and she was found having fallen out of bed at 02:10.
In the following four week period, and despite the injuries caused during the first fall and recognition that Mrs M remained at risk of falling, she fell on three further occasions. The cumulative effect of these further injuries caused additional pain and suffering.
Prior to her fall, Mrs M had been a lively, self-caring 81 year old who lived alone and was still driving. Although she had mild memory impairment and osteoporosis she was otherwise well. After she was finally discharged from hospital following her hip replacement on 24 December 2010, she had very limited mobility, significant muscle wastage, was unable to live entirely independently and was unable to manage her own affairs.
Jonathan Zimmern, instructed a Geriatrician, an Orthopaedic Surgeon and a Nursing Expert to comment on Mrs M’s case. Jonathan wrote to the Trust in January 2013 outlining the criticisms of the care that Mrs M had received. In particular he argued that as a result of her injuries Mrs M would require formal residential care three years earlier than she would otherwise have required.
The Trust responded saying that there were no additional precautions that were not already in place on the night of Mrs M’s fall that would have prevented her from falling.
As a result of the Trust’s refusal to accept responsibility for Mrs M’s injuries, Jonathan issued proceedings in July 2013. Following further discussions, the Trust eventually admitted liability and made an offer to Mrs M of £80,000 in November 2013.
Further negotiations followed and Jonathan was able to secure a settlement of £114,780 in August 2014.
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